Tuesday, April 17, 2012


“First Church” is a United Methodist church in downtown Oklahoma City—the opening worship service of our National Workshop on Christian Unity was held there last evening (4-16-12).  A variety of people from an even greater variety (it seemed) of Christian backgrounds and traditions took active part.  The welcome was made by the senior pastor of the church, Rev Mark McAdow.  What he told us was eerie (I have been grappling for a word—this is the closest I can come to my feeling).
            The Murrah Federal Building is directly across the street from First Church, and on 19 April 1995 when it was bombed, the church also was severely damaged.  It was the oldest church on its original site in the whole of the city, but after the bombing it was deemed that perhaps 2/3 of the complex was too badly damaged to be restored—it had to be re-built.  And so the worship service took place in a new church on the old site, and Rev McAdow was happy to welcome us to stand for the truth that Love will trump violence.

            Leaving the post-worship reception, I walked out into a gorgeously clear night, and I looked at the monument marking the Murrah Building’s site, a memorial to all those who were killed in that attack.  It had for me the effect that listening to Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin does:  music Ravel wrote to commemorate his friends who were killed in World War I. 
            And it took me back to 2002, when I was participating in a program called “The Pastor-Theologian Seminar.”  Our topic that year was “Resurrection,” and we made a field-trip from Princeton to Manhattan, to the site (still smoldering) of the World Trade Towers.  The back and the church yard of St Paul’s Episcopal Chapel looked out on the Twin Towers.  The church became at that time a center of activity to support the police and firefighters still working at the disaster site.  The inside of the church (where George Washington worshiped after taking the oath of office as our first president) was covered with multi-signed cards of prayerful support—the very first one of them coming, we were told, from Oklahoma City.
            This is a strange kind of “meditation” since I’m here for an ecumenical workshop.  Perhaps what is linking all these things in my mind is the sad truth that we come closer to one another in tragedy than in anything else.  Perhaps it is because it is then that we are stripped most completely naked, and we drop the pretenses and posturings that we allow separate us in “ordinary” circumstances. 

No comments:

Post a Comment